It is a popular opinion that only men have the evolutionary predisposition to want to “spread their seed”. While this is popular excuse across many cultures for men’s sexual deviances, women are believed to prefer settling down with a single mate over playing the field.
As the most common assumptions about evolution usually are, the depiction of women as biologically modest is quite far from the truth. In fact, according to evolutionary biology expert Dr. Kimberly Russel, females exhibit similar sexual behaviors to men in terms of seeking partners outside their monogamous relationship.
In an interview with Psychology Today, Russel described the biological similarities between males and females, with a focus of course on the human species, and how cultural tendencies stemmed from the singular act of genetic perpetuation. In other words, all conceptions of sex in society come from an evolutionary desire of people to extend their own genetic line:
“Both males and females engage in discreet copulations outside the socially monogamous relationship to defray the cost of missed mating opportunities.”
Since men and women are both equally promiscuous from a biological standpoint, the reasoning behind the mass cultural role of women as demure and monogamy-oriented stems from a different motive. Having multiple male partners for many females across various species is in fact more genetically advantageous for the female, as the strongest mate will allow her to extend her line of genetics.
The downside to female indulgence in sexual frolicking is that their main male partner risks losing a chance to perpetuate their genes. In human history men seek control over female sexuality for this simple evolutionary reason. Russel compared this tendency to male lions, who are willing to kill cubs of a lioness from another spouse to ensure that he will be raising his own cubs and not those from another male.
A more brutal approach no doubt, but the evolutionary instinct that resulted in the cultural role of women as a demure houseful is the same. Many societies across history accept only a modest woman of “virtue”, who for men are more appealing and safer mates considering the genetically passed fear of fathering another man’s children.
Rather than blaming this misrepresentation of female sexuality on misogyny, this global form of gender discrimination is a result of evolutionary biology. As Russel put it in her interview:
“The evolutionary cost of having a cheating wife is far greater than having a cheating husband. We expect, then, to have much stronger evolutionary pressures for males to prevent female infidelity than for females to prevent male infidelity.”
Sexualization of women in modern media outlets from music videos, to your favorite bars and adverts across popular online casinos may be enjoyed, but in the eyes of many such depictions are perceived negative. In most cultures a sexually liberal woman is still a negative trait as a result of this genetic baggage carried throughout years of history.
Whether you view it as primitive or logical, the way in which complex societal systems have been designed to support the animal desire to continue genetic bloodlines is fascinating to say the least.